The Fighting-type Resistors
With Psychic-types out of the picture, Poison and Bug-type Pokemon are the only Counter resisting Fighting-types in the Fighting Cup. Of them, Toxicroak, Hisuian Sneasle, Buzzwole, and Sneasler stand out the most (poor Heracross just can’t keep up well). Toxicroak is the most accessible of the bunch and carries Mud Bomb for some devistating super effective damage vs Poisons and efficient neutral damage against most other opponents. Sludge Bomb exists as a solid neutral nuke, removing ~50-60% of most opponent’s HP. Pro tip: If you plan on leading Toxicroak, try to have an Atk weighted Toxicroak to cover the Toxicroak lead mirror.
Hisuian Sneasle and Sneasler trade Counter in for Poison Jab and Shadow Claw respectively. While their Aerial Ace is 5 energy more than Mud Bomb, the super effective damage puts it on the level of Toxicroak’s Sludge Bomb (and completely erases Buzzwole). The 2nd Charge Move of choice comes down to preference: do you want to risk big baits with X-Scissor or do you want more closing power with Close Combat? In general, Close Combat is the preference, but a shielded X-Scissor could turn the tides of battle. Poison Jab suggests Hisuian Sneasle is markedly worse than Sneasler, but you shouldn’t be able to use Sneasler in the first place, as it can only realistically be obtained through ToS breaking methodes (still expect to see them in droves).
Then finally there’s Buzzwole. Buzzwole is arguably the most powerful Pokemon in the Fighting Cup. Unlike the Poison-types, Buzzwole has a better stat product, earlier bait move that also boosts its Counter damage (Power-Up Punch), and an earlier, more powerful neutral nuke (Superpower). Any time Buzzwole throws a Charge Move you have to question if it’ll be a PuP, baiting out your shield, or a Superpower, taking out half of your HP. Even if PuP fails to bait, the ramp up in Counter damage could still be enough to tilt the fight in Buzzwole’s favor. How do you get a 1500 CP Buzzwole? If you don’t already have one, you can’t. 1500 CP Buzzwole could only be obtained by attending GO Fest in Seattle, Washington. If you don’t have a Buzzwole, you can still win battles, but if you’re hoping to hit Legend you might want to take your chances with the Open Great League instead.
The Pure Fighting-types
Despite lacking resistances and unresisted damage, regular old Fighting-types can still power through with their massive attack stats and speed. Ideally they’ll farm a weakened Pokemon down to help stay ahead of the Charge Move trade, or they’ll set your Pokemon up for the trade themselves.
Shadow Machamp and Shadow Hitmonchan are the main options, taking speed and power to the next level. For Shadow Machamp, be sure to pair Cross Chop with Close Combat, as its Rock-type and Dark-type attacks are resisted and Heavy Slam is just plain bad. Shadow Hitmonchan will prefer to use Power-Up Punch with Ice Punch to cover the Dragons. Fire Punch may be considered over PuP if you’re afraid you’ll run into a bunch of Buzzwole while climbing.
Sir Fetch’d and Primeape are also worth considering if you don’t have the aforementioned Shadows ready to go. Primeape is basically “Shadow Hitmonchan at home” where Sir Fetch’d stands out a bit more with its Leaf Blade access and ability to one shot anything with Brave Bird
Poliwrath and Shadow Poliwrath
What these two battle toads lack in Fast Move pressure, they make up for in fast, neutral Charge Moves. Ice Punch is necessary for the bait, minor chip damage for closing, and the Dragons. Scald is most useful for the earlier neutral damage and debuff chance. Dynamic Punch can be better than Scald if it isn’t going into a Fighting-type resistor, and while unorthodox, Hydro Pump can OHKO most Pokemon in this Cup.
While their speed and Charge Move pressure can turn the tides of battle, the lack of Fast Move pressure can put them back when farming and closing. If you can get your opponent into a position where you can Mud Shot them down, victory is nearly guaranteed.
What Throh lacks in having any remarkable traits whatsoever, it makes up for in Zen Headbutt. Zen Headbutt overall is capital B-Bad, having weaker damage into Fighting-types than a neutral Counter. Where it shines is against Fighting+Poison-types, but even there it’s only good enough to just barely hard counter them. To illustrate, it won’t even feel like you’re hard countering them- but you are, so it can be useful.
Given how poor Throh is against not!Poison-types, it’s difficult to recommend it. That said, it may secure you an easy win if it gets lined up with any of the Poison-types. 2 big tips: Make sure you have at least 112.7 Atk so you actually beat Toxicroak, and don’t bother unlocking the 2nd Charge Move, Body Slam is all you’ll be able to reach.
Combusken, Pignite, and Emboar
Combusken is the Buzzwole focused version of Throh. Instead of Zen Headbutt, we have Peck. Yes. Peck. As poor as Peck is, it is arguably the most damaging Fast Move in the Cup, enabling more non-target wins compared to Throh. 2 big downsides to Combusken are: 1) Buzzwole is so limited you may not even see it and 2) It’s a level 35-40 Pokemon that may never see the light of day again after this Cup is over.
Pignite and Emboar exist as budget versions of Combusken. They’re able to harass Buzzwole enough to make a trainer wish they never fought you, Ember is as strong as Peck vs most opponents, and you don’t even have to take them past level 30. Pignite is more tanky than Emboar, but Emboar also packs Blast Burn to play with. The huge downside to these hogs is how common the Dragons are likely going to be and how those Dragons absolutely devour them.
Lucario is quite possibly the worst Pokemon to bring to the Fighting Cup. Despite this, Lucario does sport notably positive matchups against the Dragons and is solid against Sneasle and Sneasler. If the Dragons become so common that Lucario will always be able to line up against one, it could be enough to flip the match in your favor. For the purpose of this guide, this utility is worthwhile enough to bring up (more worthwhile than Sawk at least), but honestly, you probably shouldn’t bring Lucario to the Fighting Cup.
The Merciless Meta
Unless you misplay, this team should win most battles. Few Pokemon have the bulk, speed, or power to keep up with big Buzz himself and his pet Dragons. If you have these 3 Pokemon ready to go, expect an easier climb than the Open Great League. If you want to try to flip the script on similar teams, consider leading with Toxicroak and saving Buzzwole for the end game.
The Have-Not Try Hard
The goal with this team is to stay ahead on the energy and shield economy, and carry that advantage to Brave Bird. Shadow Machamp can be filled in by Shadow Hitmonchan, and either can be splashed into this team over Toxicroak and Sir Fetch’d. If you like this team’s style and happen to have Kommo-o or Buzzwole, they are also suitable trades for Sir Fetch’d and/or Toxicroak.
Throh Back AAB
Pray your opponent’s lead isn’t a Poison-type and pray they have a Poison-type in the back. The glassy “Pure Fighting-types” may be risky in this team, as you’ll likely be falling behind on energy to gain an edge in shield advantage. Ironically, that makes Toxicroak, Hisuian Sneasle, and Buzzwole powerful partners for Throh.
While the lack of access to some of the more premium options is a bit off putting, the Fighting-type may offer faster and more decisive wins than the Open Great League. Given the focus on energy and shield management, a skilled player may be able to pull ahead here more quickly than in the Open Great League, which often has slower, more matchup dependent wins. However, without some of the stronger picks in your arsenal, it may be a struggle.
Good luck in the final weeks of Season 11!